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Health. It's a controversial topic and one that gets a lot of coverage. Everyone has their own opinions on what is best for their health and what the word "healthy" actually means. At Destination: Overlooked, we believe that there is a natural way to prevent and cure most things, but standard Western medicine has its place for real emergencies and serious conditions.
I will preface this article by stating that I am not a doctor, and you (and possibly your doctor) know your health better than anyone, so please take my advice with a grain of Himalayan sea salt.
Avoid Getting Sick
One of the most common concerns amongst travellers is how to not get sick on vacation, because who wants that? First of all, your wellness routine needs to start at home BEFORE your trip. You can’t magically fix your immune system overnight. Make sure to eat well and drink plenty of water before your trip. If you’re not getting enough vitamins from your food, take a vitamin supplement that works for you. We like this one.
My morning routine whether I am at home or travelling is to have ginger tea every morning. It’s super simple: slice fresh peeled ginger into the bottom of a mug, add hot water, lemon, and honey if desired. Ginger is a powerful substance that is not only great for digestion, it is also a great anti-inflammatory, and has antioxidant properties which help your immune system. It is also delicious and warming especially on cold mornings. When I am travelling I take a few bags of ginger tea with me in case I don’t have access to fresh ginger.
When you are packing for your trip, make sure to pack hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes in your carry-on for the plane. Make sure you wipe down everything in your area once you board - the tray table, seat belt, wall, window, the headrest - you get the picture.
Another important thing to bring in your carry-on that most people don’t think of is nasal spray. The air on planes is extremely dry and full of germs from all of your fellow passengers. Keeping your nasal passage moist helps keep the germs out since they can’t survive in that environment. We recently used this one and it worked wonders.
Prevent Digestive Woes
Another concern for many travellers is their digestion during their trip. The altitude changes from the plane ride, different foods and dehydration all play a factor while travelling. Add to this the possibility of contaminated water in certain parts of the world, and you’ve got a lot of things working against your tummy.
The biggest thing to help prevent constipation is to drink a lot of water before and during your trip. Staying hydrated is key for this and for your health in general. The ginger tea I mentioned above also does a good job rehydrating you in the morning, prepares your stomach for food later, and helps prevent gas and bloating.
Although difficult to do in some countries, we find that eating your biggest meal of the day at lunchtime helps from having indigestion or other issues at night. In Poland, for example, dinner is more like a late lunch, and then they have a snack later in the evening so they don’t go to bed hungry. We found that this eating schedule really suits us.
Another way to keep your tummy happy while travelling is to eat fermented foods daily. This could be yoghurt, pickles, sauerkraut, etc. If these types of foods aren’t to your liking or aren’t readily available where you are, then a probiotic supplement is a good alternative.
Lastly, if you are in an area with questionable water, always drink bottled water, and don’t forget to also use it when brushing your teeth.
Although if you are on vacation, you shouldn’t be on such a strict diet that you have no fun, you still don’t want to come back feeling miserable. Especially if you have dietary restrictions such as allergies, or a gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan diet, preparation in advance is key.
Research restaurants in the area you are travelling to and check out their menus to see what you can eat. If you have serious food allergies, consider making an “allergy card” with all the specifics about your allergy and what you can/can’t eat in the local language. This way you can give this to your waiter to avoid any mistranslations.
One of the easiest ways to eat healthy while travelling is to cook for yourself. If you’ve booked an Airbnb or hotel with a kitchenette, take advantage of it and cook at least some of your meals. This can also help you save money. For more ways to save money travelling, read our previous post.
Always bring healthy snacks on your trip, not only for the plane ride but for the duration of the trip as well. These can be protein bars, granola bars, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, whatever works for you and your needs. This can help if you are unable to find food that will work for you or if you are having too much fun sightseeing and forget about lunch.
Bringing different herbal teas is a good idea, especially if you are used to having them at home. Peppermint is good for the evening after dinner and can help with digestion. Chamomile is great if you are having trouble sleeping.
Don’t shoot the messenger, but another way to stay healthy while travelling is to limit your alcohol intake. By all means, try the local beer or wine, but moderation is key. And don’t forget to hydrate.
I’m certainly not going to tell you to hit the gym while on vacation, although some people might. The key is to just move around. If you’re in a city, instead of taking a taxi/bus/metro to your next sight or restaurant, consider walking.
Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, and don’t worry about getting a super close parking spot somewhere if you are driving. As long as you keep moving and don’t sit like a lump your whole vacation, you don’t need to worry about all those extra croissants you indulged in.
Don't Forget Your Mental Health
Travelling can be stressful and overwhelming at times. Make sure you schedule at least one rest day to take it easy from all the running around and sightseeing. Give your mind time to reflect on what you’ve seen and take a break from the constant noise.
Don’t forget about self-care while you are travelling either. If your hotel room or vacation rental has a bathtub, take a nice relaxing bubble bath. Give yourself a pedicure, facial, or whatever it is you like to do for yourself even if that just means relaxing with a glass of wine or cup of tea and a good book. If your hotel has one and it is in your budget, schedule some time at the spa for a massage or other spa treatment.
It is also important to spend time in nature while you travel. Especially if you are in a city, try to schedule at least one nature or nature-esque activity, such as a day trip to some natural wonder in the area, or even just time in the local park or botanical garden.
Also, make sure to get plenty of sleep, which is sometimes hard to do when travelling with hectic schedules and unfamiliar beds, but do your best.
If you do get sick...
So you’ve taken all the precautions, took care of yourself and ate healthily, yet you still managed to get sick on vacation! Although you hope it won’t happen if you plan ahead, unfortunately it still happens occasionally. We always keep an “emergency kit” with us whenever we travel anywhere which includes band-aids/plasters, medicine for stomach issues, cough drops, activated charcoal pills, and oil of oregano.
Activated charcoal pills are a perfect emergency kit addition in case anyone comes down with food poisoning or any majorly upset stomach. Make sure to only buy pills that don’t include sorbitol, and consult a doctor before taking if you are pregnant or on any medications.
Oil of oregano is a strong natural antibiotic and antiviral herb and can assist with digestion issues and help prevent colds/flu. Take in pill form at the first sign of an illness. Make sure that any oil of oregano supplements you buy are actually from wild oregano, Origanum vulgare, for maximum benefits. Also, make sure to take it with food as it is very strong. Again, please consult a doctor if you are pregnant or nursing before taking this powerful herb.
If you prefer pharmaceuticals when you are sick, I recommend calling the hotel front desk/concierge or your Airbnb host to find the nearest pharmacy.
Delisa’s natural health packing list:
Oil of Oregano
Delisa's favourite herbal teas:
Did I forget anything? What are your tried and true ways to stay healthy while travelling? Let us know in the comments!
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